Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Space-age architecture, a new "sperm switch" contraceptive and more in our weekly look at the web

1. Design Legend Richard Sapper Dies at 83

Legendary industrial designer Richard Sapper has died at the age of 83. Throughout his nearly 60 year long career, the German-born, Italy-based designer worked to create products that not only looked beautiful, but functioned with purpose—including the foldable Zoombike, the harmonic 9091 whistling kettle for Alessi and, most notably, the ThinkPad range of laptops for IBM. In a previous interview, Sapper revealed to Dezeen his one regret: turning down an offer from Steve Jobs to work at Apple—a position Jonathan Ive now holds.

2. Why So Many Devices Want to Talk to You

It seems like every new device wants to talk to you these days, from refrigerators to pillows to water bottles and more. Fast Company has dubbed the trend the “Talkpocalypse” and offers a few insights into why so many companies are obsessed with your ears’ attention. In addition to adding the obvious benefit of convenience, voice-control allows companies a chance at profiting from referral purchases. Now, start-ups are eager to equip their devices with the tech to take a bite out of the overwhelming presence (and earnings) of Google’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.

3. Take a Ride in This Passenger-Ready Drone

At CES in Las Vegas, Chinese drone company Ehang unveiled a 500-lb quadcopter, called the Ehang 184, capable of transporting a human. The personal, pod-like drone employs four arms and eight propellers to transport a person (up to 220 lbs) at speeds reaching 62 miles-per-hour on a 23-minute trip. Navigation is controlled through an on-board app, which allows flyers to select their destination and then sit back and relax as the drone takes over. The Ehang 184 is not yet legal in many countries, but it’s expected to cost between $200,000 to $300,000 when it’s consumer-ready.

4. The Best Board Games of 2015

From role playing to rolling the dice, a slew of new or recently updated board games hit the market in 2015—and the team over at Ars Technica spent time giving them a go. From Czech Games’ brand new Codenames (ideal for parties) to the two-player quilting-oriented Patchwork, each delivers something special. The year saw a masterful update to Dungeons & Dragons, strategy games galore and thoughtful themes from farming to understanding the merchants of Istanbul. All thirteen options sound enticing and are sure to appeal to players of all ages and experiences.

5. The “Sperm Switch” Male Contraceptive

Aside from vasectomies, few viable male contraceptive options exist. The latest entrant into the market, called the Bimek SLV, is a proposed “sperm switch” created by German inventor Clemens Bimek. The small device works by attaching to the spermatic duct valve and can be switched to the “off” position to divert the flow of sperm back into the testicles upon ejaculation. According to Bimek, the device could then be turned back on at any point, making it a temporary contraceptive unlike vasectomies, which are sometimes irreversible. Head to Inquisitr to learn more about the proposed implant.

6. How Zora Neale Hurston Helped Her Readers Understand the World

This week, 7 January 2016 marked what would have been the 125th birthday of American author Zora Neale Hurston. Best known for her book “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Hurston’s words exposed the violent realities of black people in America to the rest of the world. As essayist Roger Rosenblatt explains in TIME, Hurston’s books helped the nation understand the challenges of being an outsider in a society dominated by white people: “A young black girl like Janie of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel… may see that she is beautiful, but how can black be beautiful if the standard of beauty is to be white, blond, fair?”

7. The New York Public Library’s Massive Online Data Dump

The New York Public Library has just releasedmore than 180,000 photographs, postcards, maps and other items from its collection to the digital world. The information dump—spearheaded by the library’s in-house technology division, NYPL Labs—is an effort to see how the public can re-envision ways to use its trove of information. “We don’t just want to put stuff online and say, ‘Here it is,’ but rev the engines and encourage reuse,” says NYPL Labs Director Ben Vershbow. Head to the New York Public Library website now to browse all of its online content.

8. Architecture to Look Forward to in 2016

2016 is shaping up to be a promising year in architecture. Ambitious projects across the world are set to see completion in the new year, and Dezeen has rounded-up their top 12 to keep an eye on. Bjarke Ingels and his design firm BIG will kick things off with the opening of West 57th, a triangular residential tower in New York, followed up by other celebrated firms debuting international museums, memorials and houses—even a theater complex in Taiwan. Head to Dezeen to view the full list of upcoming structures and to see if any will be popping up in your home city.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.